by Veronica Garabelli
Waynesboro-based nTelos Wireless is taking a bite out of sales for Apple’s iPhone 5. The company is one of the few small wireless carriers around the country that started selling the latest version of the smartphone at a $50 discount at the end of September, a week after the top carriers began offering the phone. Five million phones were sold worldwide by all vendors during the first three days.
“The reception has been very good,” says Jim Hyde, CEO of the nTelos.
Hyde says that, since nTelos began selling an earlier version of the iPhone in April, the company has seen many customers switch from other wireless carriers. The company sold 9,500 iPhones in the second quarter, which ended in June, according to a report nTelos released to potential lenders. The report noted that a little more than half of those iPhone sales were to new customers. “It’s that Verizon or AT&T customer who loves the iPhone but doesn’t love the bill,” Hyde says.
The new iPhone is being branded by Apple as the “thinnest, lightest, fastest iPhone ever.” New features include a 4-inch retina display, A6 chip for faster performance and longer battery life.
Hyde’s company is selling the iPhone 5 at $149.99 for the model with 16 gigabytes of storage, $249.99 for the 32GB model and $349.99 for the 64GB model with a two-year contract. That’s $50 less than what Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are offering for the same models under a two-year agreement. The iPhones are available at nTelos retail stores, online and through telesales. Monthly rates are $79.99 for unlimited text, data and 600 minutes while a $99.99 monthly rate gets customers unlimited voice, text and data. Company spokesman Mike Minnis says nTelos unlimited plans tend to be $10 to $40 cheaper than the national carriers.
The Waynesboro company currently runs on a third-generation or “3G” network, though Hyde says nTelos plans to launch a 4G network in the second half of 2013 and have it available to all customers by 2014. The company has 420,000 retail customers in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. Its wireless network territory includes 5.9 million residents.
Other small wireless providers in the U.S. offering the iPhone 5 at a $50 discount include Cellcom, based in De Pere, Wis.; C Spire, headquartered in Ridgeland, Miss., and Alaska’s General Communication Inc.
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